Lethal Weapon 4
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|Lethal Weapon 4|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Donner|
|Produced by||Richard Donner
|Screenplay by||Channing Gibson|
|Story by||Jonathan Lemkin
|Based on||Characters by
|Music by||Michael Kamen
|Editing by||Frank J. Urioste
Doshudo Productions, inc.
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release dates||July 10, 1998|
|Running time||127 minutes|
|Budget||$100 million (official)|
Lethal Weapon 4 is a 1998 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock and Jet Li. It is the fourth and final installment in the Lethal Weapon series. This was Jet Li's American film debut as Wah Sing Ku.
Lorna Cole is pregnant with L.A.P.D. sergeant Martin Riggs' baby; they are not married, but both are thinking about it. Police sergeant Roger Murtaugh's daughter Rianne is also pregnant, and Riggs later learns from Lorna that Rianne has secretly married Lee Butters (Chris Rock), a young detective who works at the same precinct as Murtaugh and Riggs – secretly because Roger had made it clear that he does not want his daughter to marry a police officer. Due to the many disasters caused by both sergeants while on duty, the police department has lost its insurance carrier, and cannot get a new one while they're still out on the streets. Because firing them isn't an option, the Chief uses a special privilege and they get temporarily promoted to captains, given that there aren't any lieutenant spots available.
Riggs, Murtaugh, and Butters – with some assistance from Leo Getz (Pesci), who is now a private detective – investigate a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring after they come across a vessel with a cargo hold of Chinese slave laborers; in the course of these events Murtaugh's boat is sunk. Murtaugh finds a dinghy alongside with a Chinese family whom he provides shelter for at his house, claiming to be "freeing slaves."
Information about a crime boss named Benny Chan (Kim Chan), a.k.a. "Uncle Benny," leads them to Chinatown, where they are introduced to a high-ranking Triad negotiator named Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li). Benny forces the three cops out of the restaurant without providing information on what his and the Triads' plans are. Outside, the cops encounter the captain of the ship and chase him and another suspect. The other suspect turns out to be a restaurant waiter and is freed. Ku later kills the captain for letting the cops know about their secret plans.
Riggs and Murtaugh hire Leo to follow Benny around, but after Hong, the father of the Chinese family Murtaugh rescued, contacts his uncle, they come home to find Ku and his men holding Lorna and Murtaugh's family hostage and that Hong and his family are taken away. After a brief fight, the house is set on fire with everyone tied up inside. Ping, one of the Hong children, however, frees them, having eluded captivity. Murtaugh and Riggs chase down two of the triad members down a freeway, but both men are killed in collision with traffic without giving any information on the Hongs' whereabouts.
Ku and the other men visit a Chinese-based holding cell being run by a corrupt Chinese general, who is holding four Triad overlords known as the "Four Fathers," one of whom is Ku's brother, and demanding a huge payoff from the Triads for their release.
After Riggs and Murtaugh return to Murtaugh's home, Leo informs them and Butters that Benny is seeing his dentist, and using Leo to distract the dentist, the three cops use nitrous oxide to extract information from Benny. Riggs inadvertently reveals that Butters is Rianne's husband and the father of her baby. Because they had accidentally exposed themselves to the laughing gas as well, they misunderstood the information Benny provided them, which initially leads to some complications in their investigation.
Ku brings the Hongs to the Triads' hideout, where it is revealed that the Triads plan to give the corrupt general counterfeit Chinese money for the Four Fathers' release. The captive artist working on the printing plates is the elder uncle to Hong and agreed to do the job in exchange for his family's safe passage to the United States. Ku kills Hong in order to secure his uncle's cooperation. With the printing plates completed, he and Benny are also killed to protect the forgery (Hong's uncle) and for exposing the operation (Uncle Benny).
Detective Ng, who is familiar with Chinese society, corrects Murtaugh and the other officers on the information Benny provided earlier and explains why the Triads torched Murtaugh's home. After Riggs picks up Ping and Lorna, the officers locate the hideout, but find only the dead and some of the counterfeit Chinese money inside. Ng once again helps them piece the entire operation together.
At the meeting between Ku and the corrupt general, Riggs, Murtaugh, Butters and other detectives expose the counterfeit money; as a result the general kills two of the Four Fathers. Ku's henchmen kill the general, and a firefight breaks out between the cops, the Triads and the general's private army. Butters is shot in the back while protecting Murtaugh and Murtaugh kills Ku's brother while aiming for Ku. Riggs and Murtaugh eventually corner Ku on a pier and engage the vengeful Triad in a brutal hand-to-hand showdown. Murtaugh is knocked out after impaling Ku on a piece of rebar while Riggs and Ku fall into the water when the pier collapses. Riggs struggles with Ku underwater and shoots him to death with an AK-47, but a slab of concrete from the pier falls and pins Riggs underwater until Murtaugh wakes up, jumps in, and saves him.
Riggs visits his dead wife's grave and asks her for advice about his impending marriage with Lorna, about which he still has doubts. He is interrupted by the arrival of Leo, who tells a story from his childhood that makes Riggs see the idea of remarrying in a new light. Riggs' pager goes off, indicating that Lorna is giving birth, and the two rush to the hospital. Riggs and Lorna are ceremonially married by a rabbi just before their and Rianne's babies are born, Murtaugh accepts Butters as his son-in-law, Riggs and Murtaugh are given their rank of Sergeant back and Hong's family is granted asylum.
- Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs
- Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh
- Joe Pesci as Leo Getz
- Rene Russo as Lorna Cole–Riggs
- Chris Rock as Det. Lee Butters
- Jet Li as Wah Sing Ku
- Kim Chan as Uncle Benny Chan
- Steve Kahan as Capt. Ed Murphy
- Calvin Jung as Detective Ng
- Jack Kehler as U.S. State Department Official
- Eddy Ko as Hong
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Dr. Stephanie Woods
- Conan Lee as Ku's brother
Lethal Weapon 4 debuted at No. 1 at the box office. Although the film grossed $130 million domestically, it was not considered a runaway financial success as the previous three films had been. Shooting began in January 1998, just months before the film's release, with a production budget estimated at $120–$150 million (although Warner Bros. maintain it cost less than $100 million) and an additional $50 million spent on marketing and distribution. This made the fourth film the most expensive entry of the series. Its profit margin was saved in part due to the combined foreign box office sales making the film gross approximately $285 million in total. Still, like its predecessors, Lethal Weapon 4 was among the top ten grossing films of its release year.
Critical reaction to Lethal Weapon 4 was mixed. The film currently holds a rating of 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. James Berardinelli gave the film three stars out of four, writing: "Given the expectations that constrain it, Lethal Weapon 4 is probably the best motion picture that could possibly result from another teaming of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. The series has lost a lot of steam since the first two entries, and, although the fourth movie ratchets up the energy level from the moribund state of the disappointing Lethal Weapon 3, there's no sense of spontaneity." Roger Ebert gave Lethal Weapon 4 two stars out of four, writing: "Lethal Weapon 4 has all the technical skill of the first three movies in the series, but lacks the secret weapon, which was conviction. All four movies take two cop buddies and put them into spectacular and absurd action sequences, but the first three at least went through the motions of taking the plot seriously (and the first one did such a good job, it made my 'best 10' list of that year). This time, we're watching an exercise." The film was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for Pesci.
Lethal Weapon 4 has been released on VHS and DVD numerous times. It has been re-released in numerous sets that contain all four films in the series. Lethal Weapon 4 was released on Blu-ray Disc as part of a box set with the additional Lethal Weapon films on May 22, 2012.
There has been talk of a fifth Lethal Weapon film, although neither Mel Gibson nor Danny Glover have expressed interest. In 2007, Moviehole.net received word from sources that Warner Bros. are in the early stages of trying to relaunch the Lethal Weapon series sometime in 2009 or later. A spec script treatment has been written by Shane Black, leading to rumors that the sequel was on fast track by Warner Bros. with Black in the director's chair. Actor Columbus Short said he was being considered for the role of Murtaugh's son. Director Richard Donner is not involved with these plans, but he has his own ideas for a Lethal Weapon 5. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gibson has refused to reprise his role as Martin Riggs for the fifth time, which Donner thinks is out of personal loyalty because Donner is not involved. Joel Silver later confirmed Gibson’s lack of interest in the project. "We talked about it, but it was something that Mel didn't want to do now," he explained. "It doesn't mean that he doesn't want to do it ever, but as of right now, he doesn't." On the Australian website What's Playing, an insider said, "They’re talking again. Mel probably needs Joel, not to mention Lethal Weapon now more than ever, so I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it comes off this time. And it could be a good move, that’s a mighty big brand name – it probably would help Gibson, professionally-speaking.”
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